The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced a sweeping review of big tech’s alleged anti-competitive practices. The review will focus on practices of “market-leading online platforms” that “create or maintain structural impediments to greater competition and user benefits” and is likely to impact many big tech companies including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.
In its announcement, the DOJ said the Department’s Antitrust Division will be looking at whether and how big tech companies which it describes as “market-leading online platforms” have achieved their market power and engaged in practices that have:
- Reduced competition
- Stifled innovation
- Otherwise harmed consumers
The review will focus on many key areas that consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs have raised concerns about which include:
- Social media
- Some online retail services
The DOJ says the review will involve seeking information from the public, industry participants who have direct insights into competition in online platforms, and others. It adds that the goal of this review is to:
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“Assess the competitive conditions in the online marketplace in an objective and fair-minded manner and to ensure Americans have access to free markets in which companies compete on the merits to provide services that users want. If violations of law are identified, the Department will proceed appropriately to seek redress.”
The DOJ’s announcement comes after big tech companies have faced growing antitrust scrutiny from many regulatory bodies including the US House Judiciary Committee and the EU antitrust regulators. However, this is probably the most significant antitrust action taken against the big tech industry by any regulatory body to date.
Some of the many areas that this antitrust review could impact include:
- Amazon’s retail dominance and the impact this has on smaller sellers
- Apple‘s App Store dominance and the impact this has on app distribution
- Facebook’s ownership of many of the top social media apps and the impact this has on competing social networks
- Google’s search dominance and the impact this has on competing search engines
- Big tech’s control of public discourse and how this can be used to silence and censor certain voices